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November is Pet Diabetes Month

Living with a Diabetic Pet

Thanks to treatment  improvements, the disease is now very manageable.

By Stacy Mantle

November is Pet Diabetes Month and it’s important for owners to know what signs to look for in their pets.

November is Pet Diabetes Month and it’s important for owners to know what signs to look for in their pets.

November is Pet Diabetes Month and as this is a disease that affects nearly every species, it’s important for pet owners to know a little about it. All types of animals, from ferrets to cats and humans to dogs, can develop diabetes.

To understand the condition, you need to know a bit about insulin. Insulin is a hormone that enables a body to use sugar (glucose), which is converted from consumed food, for energy or save it for use later. Glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream from the intestines; it then flows to the body’s cells. If the pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin, which acts as a key to open up cells to glucose, the sugar cannot be absorbed by the cells. This results in a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream.  

This buildup is what causes your pets want to eat constantly, but still appear to be malnourished. It is due to the cells not properly absorbing glucose for energy.

If your pet is showing signs of excessive thirst, frequent urination or acting like he or she is tired all of the time, it’s time to get some blood work done. Diabetes is one of those diseases that can sneak up on you and if you don’t pay attention, you could quickly lose your pet. Caught early, and your pets can live a normal, healthy life.

 

Types of Diabetes in Pets

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces no insulin at all. For Type 2, the pancreas produces insulin, but the body’s cells don’t respond well or have become resistant to it.

Dogs tend to develop insulin-dependent diabetes (Type 1), which means they will need injections—probably forever. Cats, however, are more commonly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which can usually be handled with oral medication and diet changes.

 

Diagnosing Diabetes in Pets

If your veterinarian suspects diabetes in your pet, she will likely need to perform a complete blood count (CBC), a serum biochemistry profile and a urinalysis to confirm diagnosis. While this may seem like a lot of tests, they are important as it allows the vet to accurately confirm the dosage levels required to help your pet.

It’s also important to remember that many pets react very strongly to being at the veterinarian’s office, and this can effect or change their actual levels. Running multiple tests will help confirm what is really going on while also ruling out other things that could affect your pet’s health.

 

Treating Diabetes in Pets

After your veterinarian has reached the conclusion your pet has diabetes, she will select an insulin type and dosage for your pet. The dosage needs to be closely monitored for the first few months to ensure it is accurate and effective. Every animal responds differently to the treatment and it’s up to the vet to establish how well your pet is doing with it.

In severe cases, your veterinarian might ask you to leave your pet at the hospital for a few days so she can quickly establish the best dosage through close monitoring.

Learn more about pet diabetes, its signs and risk factors with this downloadable brochure from Merck Animal Health.

 

Diet and Exercise

You might also need to change your pet’s diet to a prescription food or other vet-recommended food. It is very important that you monitor your pet’s diet, including treats, for the rest of his life. You need to be extra careful not to let your pet eat from the table or get into garbage as this can seriously affect his blood-sugar levels.

Currently, most vets recommend that dogs stay on high-fiber diets, since fiber seems to help increase the effect of insulin in dogs. Cats with diabetes, however, should be on a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. Sugars, obviously, need to be avoided. This is often simple to do for cats, but dogs tend to have a harder time controlling their intake of sugar.

Exercise is also very important. You will want to make sure your dog is getting plenty of walks and playtime to keep him active—it will tremendously help him to manage this condition.  

 

Injections

Most pets could require injections twice a day—after each meal. You might have to modify your pet’s feeding schedule. You will also need to learn how to give these injections subcutaneously (under the skin). This might seem intimidating, but you can quickly learn this simple task. The needles are quite small and, in most cases, your pet will not even feel it—especially after you’ve had some practice.  Work closely with your veterinarian to learn how to give these injections. They are very, very important to maintaining your pet’s health.

In some cases (such as with Type 2), oral medication can be used instead of insulin injections. The treatment plan will depend on your veterinarian and how advanced your pet’s condition is (which is one more reason why you need to catch it early).

 

Glucose Testing

Your pet will need to have glucose tests to monitor his insulin levels. In the beginning, he might need to have a glucose curve established—blood -sugar levels are monitored every 2 to 4 hours for a 24-hour period. This test tells the veterinarian how well your pet is adjusting to the insulin.

After the initial curve is established, you should be able to monitor your pet with ongoing veterinarian appointments or by measuring the levels at home with a glucometer. You’ll want to learn more about this process because many things can affect how your pet responds daily to insulin day.

If you suspect your dog or cat has diabetes, be sure to get him into the veterinarian right away. This is a very manageable disease and the science used in preventing and treatment is improving every day.


About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at  www.StacyMantle.com

How You Can Help Your Local Shelter

Helping Rescues and Shelters

Do what you can: adopt, volunteer, donate, spread the word.

By Audrey Pavia

The most important step you can take toward helping a shelter dog or cat  is to adopt one.

The most important step you can take toward helping a shelter dog or cat is to adopt one.

Every year, nearly 7.6 million cats and dogs end up in U.S. animal shelters; only half of those animals find homes; the other half is euthanized, according to the ASPCA. This means approximately 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats are destroyed in shelters every year.

These shocking statistics underline the severity of the homeless pet problem, and drive home the need for pet lovers to do whatever they can to help shelter animals.

The first of November began the National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week, but shelters need help all year round. What follows are some suggestions on how you can provide assistance to shelter pets.

 

Adopt

The most important step you can take toward helping a shelter dog or cat  is to adopt one. Instead of buying a pet, go to www.petfinder.com and search for the kind of canine or feline companion you are seeking. Shelters and private rescues list dogs and cats of all breeds and breed mixes, ages and temperaments on this site. Private rescues can often tell you a lot about the dog or cat because the animal has been kept in foster care for a period of time before being placed up for adoption. City and county shelters might not be able to give you as much information about the pet, but many shelters provide adoption packages to people who adopt a dog or cat, and these often include free or low-cost training.

 

Rescues and shelters appreciated any help you can give, from a few hours a month to regular weekend visits.

Rescues and shelters appreciate any help you can give, from a few hours a month to regular weekly visits.

Volunteer

Most shelters and rescues are desperate for volunteers. Positions that need filling include tasks like office work, pet photography, public relations, attending adoption events, dog training and dog walking. You can spend as much time you like volunteering. Whether it’s a few hours a month or every weekend, rescues and shelters are grateful for any help they can get.

 

Donate

All shelters and rescues are desperate for resources. If you cannot donate money, find out what other items they need. Many shelters and rescues will accept pet food, blankets, carriers, toys, bowls and other pet accessories. If you have gently used items your dog or cat no longer needs, consider taking them to the local shelter. You might also want to buy a gift card to a pet supply chain such as PetSmart or Petco to enable the rescue or shelter to purchase whatever they need.

 

Spread the Word

Get on the mailing list for your favorite rescues and your local shelter, or follow them on social media. Share postings about pets for adoption with people you know. The more exposure shelter pets receive, the more likely they are to get a home.

 

Help Strays

Even though shelters are inundated with homeless dogs, they are there to help animals in need. If you see a stray dog, call your local animal control agency so they can catch the dog and take him to their facility. The dog will be fed and given veterinary care, and kept for a period of time so the owner can claim him. In the event the dog is not claimed, he will go up for adoption. You can request that the shelter keep your posted on dog’s status.

 

Spay or Neuter

Don’t contribute to the homeless pet population by allowing your dog or cat to breed. Spay or neuter your dog, even if she is a purebred. Shelters and rescues are filled with purebred dogs that need homes.


About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.

Black Cats Need Love Too

Black is the New Cat

It’s time to celebrate
Black Cat Appreciation Day.

By Sandy Robins

Black cats should be judged by their personality and innate characteristics.

Black cats need to be judged by their personality and innate characteristics and not superstitions tied to their color.

I know, I know. Another pet related day to celebrate on the calendar. Yet, Black Cat Appreciation Day on November 16 is truly something to celebrate.

Sadly, black cats (and dogs) are far less likely to be adopted from shelters than cats of any other fur colors or combinations. That means the euthanization rate is much higher. Even if everyone knows that black cats aren’t witches’ familiars or minions of hell, there remains an underlying belief that they are unlucky. As a result, black cats tend to be overlooked no matter how beautiful they are or engaging their personalities.

As far as superstitions go, it depends on which side of the Atlantic you live. Black cats are supposed to be unlucky in the U.S; however, across the ocean, the English consider them a sign of good luck. Since anyone who understands even the rudiments of science knows a negative and a positive cancel each other out, we should just let black cats be…well…cats. The superstitious can stick to not walking under ladders or wearing their lucky shirt.

Unfortunately, many people perpetuate the myths about black cats without realizing it. After all, every October we adorn out homes with Halloween paraphernalia and witches and black cats are an integral part of the decorations. Frankly, when it comes to decorating, I think its time to stick to pumpkins. If you really want to bring cats into the picture, consider putting them in a costume. (Shark cat on a Roomba anyone?) You could also turn your pumpkins into Grumpkins, courtesy of the Grumpy Cat carving stencil that came out this year.

living with black cat is like living with a miniature black panther, especially ones with gorgeous gold eyes.

Living with a black cat is like living with a miniature black panther, especially one with gorgeous gold eyes.

Thankfully, animal shelters and rescues refuse to adopt out black cats (and dogs) in October to protect them from falling into the wrong hands. Black Cat Appreciation Day is held the following month to give pet lovers the opportunity to adopt a new friend who is black and beautiful.

There’s no question that living with a black cat is like living with a miniature black panther in your home, especially when he or she is blessed with gorgeous gold eyes.

It is time to stop judging pets by their color and look at them for their personality and innate characteristics.

It is also time to adopt a more European outlook. If a black cat crosses your path, it’is a sign of good luck. You can make that happen every day by bringing a black kitty into your home.

Please Tweet and post positive Facebook messages about black cats on November 16 and dispel the myths associated with these gorgeous creatures. It is no longer the Middle Ages people; time to move on.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

 

How to Help the Feral Cats in Your Neighborhood

Feral Cat Care

You can help homeless, gone-wild felines.

By Sandy Robins

FeralCatDay-1October 16th marks the 14th annual national Feral Cat Day with the goal of bringing awareness to the sad plight of feral cats who are forced to live on the streets of cities and towns across America as well as in rural areas.

Feral or community cats are a “man-made problem” that comes about when people carelessly and ruthlessly abandon cats, leaving them to fend for themselves. Moreover, if they have not been spayed or neutered, their numbers quickly escalate.

The official definition of a feral is a cat who is living in a wild state after domestication. Fortunately, cats quickly revert to their natural instincts in order to survive. However, this doesn’t mean they do well on their own. It’s tough to find food, water and shelter in order to survive, let alone thrive.

Here are some useful tips on how to aid feral cats living in your area.

 

TNR—Trap, Neuter and Return

If you find community cats in your neighborhood, the very best way to help them is to get them spay and neutered. The process of having them spayed and neutered and returned to the area where they were found is called TNR: trap, neuter and return. Not only will this stop the cat population from growing, it also makes the cats healthier and happier because they are not continually bearing litters of kittens. It also stops nuisance behavior such as yowling, fighting, which, of course, can make your neighbors more tolerant of them, too.

Just about every community has low-cost or free spay/neuter clinics to help, and they often offer free rental of trapping equipment. To find one near you, contact your local feline rescue group, Humane Society or SPCA. 

 

Establish a Feeding Routine

Be sure to provide the cats with fresh food and water every day. Since they don’t have “owners,” they rely on the kindness of people to help them survive. If possible, find other concerned cat people in your neighborhood and set up a feeding roster to share the responsibilities.

 

Provide Shelter

This is particularly important if you live in a colder climate. You can make a very simple and inexpensive shelter using a plastic storage bin and straw, or you can build something more sturdy and insulated. Here are several great plans for easy-to-make shelters: www.neighborhoodcats.org/HOW_TO_FERAL_CAT_WINTER_SHELTER

 

Rescue, Foster and Find Homes

FeralCatTrap

Many low-cost spay/neuter clinics will loan volunteers humane traps to catch feral cats.

Many feral cats are friendly and will come close to humans. Where possible, try to remove them from their colony. Very young kittens who are removed early will be easier to socialize in a foster care program. Work in conjunction with a rescue group in your area. Their volunteers will be very willing to teach you the ropes.

 

Encourage Neighbors to Participate—and Spay/Neuter Their Pets

Chances are the feral cats you’re seeing in your neighborhood are the descendants of unfixed domestic cats. By encouraging your neighbors to spay/neuter their pets and educating them about low-cost or free options, it will help prevent the introduction of more homeless cats in your neighborhood.

Cimeron Morrissey, who was named Animal Planet’s person of the Year in 2007 for her tireless work with feral cats, notes the best way to humanely trap cats is to withhold food for 12 to 24 hours and then set the humane traps with tempting treats, such as tuna or wet food.

“Once caught, cover the traps entirely with old sheets or towels, which will calm the cats,” she said, adding that many spay/neuter clinics operate by appointment only, so be sure to plan ahead.

For recovery post-surgery, Morrissey suggests keeping the cats in their covered traps for 24 to 72 hours, taking guidance from the veterinarian clinic and watching for signs of illness or surgical complications (which are rare). Finally, after the cats have recovered, they must be returned to the exact location where they were originally caught.

You can find out more about the National Feral Cat Day along with an interactive listing of events going on around the country at www.alleycat.org/NFCD

Other useful links:

www.alleycat.org

www.feralcatproject.org/aboutthecats_whatis.aspx

www.homelesscatnetwork.com 


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

How to Make Your Cat a Happy One

Having a Happy Cat, Every Day

By Sandy Robins

September is Happy Cat month. Again, I wonder about these designated events since every day of every month should be about keeping your cat happy.

The best way to make your cat happy is to ensure she really feels comfortable in your Home—everywhere and every day. While cats might love to snooze in a favorite chair and on the bed in the spot where their owners usually lie, they still need a designated place in the home to call their very own.

CatCondoPerch

A cat tree/condo combination offers your feline the perfect place to perch, claw, play and/or hide as his mood demands.

Cats love vertical space because it gives them an opportunity to survey their world and look down on you. The Answer to the question of how to this is a tall cat condo. They usually have small bases so they don’t take up too much space. To meet a cat’s innate needs the condo should provide some privacy, a place to hide and snooze, a lookout zone platform and a place to scratch.

Where possible, position the condo near a window so your cat can enjoy a range of visual entertainment, from birds and butterflies in the garden to passersby (both human and non) and street activity.

Home comforts also include ensuring that your cat’s bed is not placed near a draughty door or window. This is particularly important during the colder months and is especially so for older cats. You should also move the bed around from time to time—it’s like providing your cat with a new place to sleep.

It’s equally important to hone your kitty’s Pounce and Prey skills by providing a variety of toys, from wands to puzzles to catnip-filled comfort toys. Exercise provides both mental and physical stimulation and is essential to weight control (a fat cat is not a happy cat, health-wise). Our cats are not supposed to be couch potatoes but active hunters of prey.

You also need to get your cat’s groom on. While cats are efficiently self-cleaners, those who live safely indoors shed year-round and tend to need extra help. So do elderly cats; their reduced mobility often means they can no longer efficiently groom their nether regions.

CatOneonOneTime

A happy cat is well fed, groomed, played with and, above all else, loved.

For grooming to become routine, you need to find grooming tools your cat is comfortable with you using. Some prefer mitts with rubber knobs to remove fur instead of a slicker brush. In addition, a de-shedding tool is a must-have to get rid of thick undercoat and to prevent matting.

Let your cat dictate where she likes to be groomed, whether it’s the kitchen counter or on your lap. Grooming is a great way to spend quality time with your favorite cat and is a great way of enhancing the human-animal bond.

Lastly, don’t forget that above all else, make sure you always give Your cat plenty of purr-inducing attention every day.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

Why You Should Adopt a Senior Pet

Older Pets Rule!

By Lisa King

If you’re in the market for a cat or dog, why not consider an older pet? There are many advantages to passing over those irresistible puppies and kittens and taking a closer look at mature cats and dogs.

Most people who go to shelters are looking for younger pets. In fact, pets over the age of five have a difficult time getting adopted, even if they’re far from elderly. These animals have so much to offer, but they tend to get passed over. Here are just a few reasons to take home an adult or senior pet.

SeniorDog

Consider adopting an older dog as he or she will be already house-trained and ready to settle down in his/her new home.

  • You know what size the pet will be, since he’s full grown. With mixed-breed puppies, adult size is always a guessing game.
  • It’s easier to assess the pet’s temperament accurately since his personality is fully developed. Shelter staff can tell you whether the dog or cat you’re interested in likes to cuddle, is kid-friendly, or will get along with your other pets.
  • If you choose an adult dog, you’ll avoid the tedious process of house-training your puppy and attending puppy obedience classes, and usually won’t have to worry about chewing, digging or other destructive behaviors. Adult cats may already be trained not to scratch furniture.
  • With both dogs and cats, you won’t need to puppy- or kitten-proof your home. Older dogs and cats tend to be less active and inquisitive.
  • Older dogs and cats are easier to train since they are calmer and more able to focus than puppies and kittens. Remember that pets can be taught new tricks at any age. Most older dogs already know how to walk on a leash and obey simple commands.
  • A dog or cat who has lived in a home with people before is better socialized and more adaptable. They have better manners than young pets and know what’s expected of them.
  • Bringing a mellow older pet into a home with existing pets is far less disruptive than bringing home a rambunctious kitten or puppy, especially if the pets you already have are older, too.
  • An older pet can be left alone all day while you’re at work. They don’t need close supervision as a puppy or kitten would. They are usually happy to entertain themselves or doze away the day.
  • If you’re elderly yourself, you’ll have a lot more in common with an older dog or cat who is low-key and doesn’t require strenuous exercise.
SeniorCat

A senior cat is perfect for someone looking for a relaxed companion who won’t tear up the furniture or do late-night sprints in the hallway.

These animals are in shelters through no fault of their own. Owner-surrendered adult dogs and cats are usually the victim of circumstances, like a move to a no-pet home or a change in jobs, or a life event such as divorce, marriage, or a new baby. If you adopt an older pet, you not only acquire a loving and grateful companion, you save a life and reduce euthanasia, because older pets are the ones who are put down when they’ve overstayed their welcome at crowded shelters.

You might be concerned that an older pet will end up costing you a fortune at the vet. Before you adopt, get a veterinary report that details the pet’s issues. The shelter should be able to provide you with one. Some agencies offer assistance with vet bills for a periods of time after adoption, so ask at the shelter or rescue where you adopt your pet. Keep in mind that your adult pet won’t need spaying, neutering or puppy or kitten shots.

There will be an adjustment period for any new pet you bring home. While some pets move right in as if they’ve always lived with you, others take time to adapt to new surroundings. This is especially true if the pet has been in the shelter for any length of time, which is a very stressful experience. Be patient and loving and things will work themselves out.


About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”


On a Mission To “Save Them All.”
Save Them All - Pet Adoption OnlineIf you are looking to adopt a pet, please consider Best Friends. Best Friends Animal Society is here to save animals from shelter euthanization and cruelty by finding them forever homes. These cats, dogs, birds, horses and more are all living beings that deserve the chance to enjoy their life. At Best Friends volunteers and staff are hard at work daily to find animals in high-kill shelters and rescue them for the chance at finding them a forever home! Visit: www.bestfriends.org

Alternative Pet Care & Therapy

Holistic Therapy for Your Pets

By Stacy Mantle

When it comes to the health of our pets, we want to make sure they receive the best care. Natural-based care has been around for thousands of years and some of the newer treatments have found ways to combine traditional practices with modern medicine.

According to the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA), holistic (or integrative) veterinary medicine is “the examination and diagnosis of an animal, considering all aspects of the animal’s life and employing all of the practitioner’s senses, as well as the combination of conventional and alternative (or complementary) modalities of treatment.”

Please remember that none of these practices should be administered at home or without the supervision of a veterinarian certified in his or her practice. Treatments can be just as deadly as they are effective when used improperly. For information on any of these treatments or to locate a holistic veterinarian near you, visit American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association at http://www.ahvma.org/ Here are three alternative therapies you might want to consider exploring for your pets.

 

Low-level Laser TherapyLaserTherapyDog

Low-level laser therapy is used by alternative-care practitioners as a way to ameliorate joint pain and treat soft-tissue injuries in pets. The theory behind the therapy is that at lower levels, the laser’s light can still stimulate cells and increase blood circulation, which can in turn reduce pain signals. Recent advances in this technology have made laser units available in most veterinary offices. This can be an effective treatment for dogs, cats and horses with arthritis, tendon damage, dysplasia and inflammatory joint or soft-tissue conditions.

For more information on laser therapy, both low- and high-level, visit the American Animal Hospital Association website.

 

Essential Oils

When it comes to skin conditions and natural calmants, there are few things more effective than essential oils. Lavender and chamomile can be very calming when diffused into the air and oils such as rosemary and melaleuca can be very effective in treating skin conditions. However, oils can be very dangerous and should not be used on or around pets unless under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Oils come in a variety of purity levels, which are measured by therapeutic value. Generally, the more expensive the oil is, the higher its quality (though this is not always true). Only pure oils should be used around pets. When used correctly, essential oils can be an effective treatment for many different ailments in any species.

 

Acupuncture

AcupunctureDog

Acupuncture has been around for more than 3,500 years and over a quarter of the world’s population uses it today. This alternative treatment was developed in China and is most often used for treating pain. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that Chi, a vital force that flows throughout the body, travels along channels of energy flow called meridians. Small-gauge needs are inserted into specific pressure points along the meridians to release the flow of energy a disease has blocked. Acupuncture has been used for everything from blocking pain to stimulating appetite. Today, many holistic veterinarians and pet owners stand by the benefits of use on pets. If you or your pet has a natural aversion to needles, you may want to explore acupressure instead.

Whichever method of alternative therapy you choose to try on your pets; be certain you only rely on the advice of those well-trained in such matters. The Internet is rife with bad advice that can potentially cause further harm to your pets. In medical matters, it is always best to rely on veterinarians and those professionally trained in holistic practices.


About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at  www.StacyMantle.com

Why Your Cat Needs Regular Visits to the Veterinarian

Take Your Cat to the Vet Day

By Lisa King

Veterinarian Assistant

You should take your cat to the vet at least once a year for a check-up.

August 22 is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day. There is no comparable day for dogs, so why is this annual reminder necessary? The answer is simple: Even though there are more pet cats than dogs in America, owners take their cats to the veterinarian about half as often as they take their dogs.

There are many reasons people are reluctant to take their cats to the vet regularly. Cats are seen as low-maintenance compared to dogs, and while this might be true overall, when it comes to medical care it is simply not the case. A cat should see his veterinarian once a year whether he has any symptoms or not. This applies even if yours is a young, sprightly, indoor-only cat.

Another problem for many cat owners is cost. Veterinarian visits aren’t cheap, but spending the money for a checkup annually can catch problems early, when they are easier to treat, thus saving you money in the long run.

Many owners resist taking their cats to the vet because it is so stressful for the cat. Cats are notoriously nervous about vet visits. Since most cats only get in their carriers and take car rides on vet day, no wonder they run and hide at the first sight of the carrier. The solution is to create positive associations with the carrier. Leave it out on the floor with the door open in a room your cat frequents. Line it with a comfy blanket and occasionally put a few treats, toys or a sprinkling of catnip inside. Your cat will come to see it as just another piece of furniture, and might even take naps inside. You can also put him in the carrier and take him on short drives that don’t end up at the vet’s office.

Another good reason for yearly exams is so your vet can get to know your cat, which will make it easier for her to diagnose what’s wrong with him if he develops symptoms. Establishing a good relationship with a vet also makes it easier for you to trust her judgment in matters of treatment.

Vet Assistant School

During the annual exam, the vet will check your cat’s teeth and gums.

Once you’ve gotten your cat to the vet, a vet tech will first weigh him. Then comes the indignity of having his temperature taken with a rectal thermometer. The veterinarian will do a thorough check of your cat’s eyes, ears, nose, mouth and teeth, looking for inflammation, discharge and other problems. She will listen to your cat’s heart and lungs with a stethoscope. She will also examine his paws, genitals and anus, and comb through his fur looking for evidence of fleas. Next, she will gently examine your cat’s body, looking for bumps, swelling or other abnormalities. If this is your cat’s first visit to a particular vet, she might want to do blood work to establish baseline values to compare against later tests.

Talk to your vet about flea control, deworming and dental care. The handling of these issues will depend on your individual cat’s circumstances. Vaccinations are another topic to discuss with your vet. While rabies shots area regulated by law, most other vaccinations are given at the owner’s discretion. Some vaccinations are recommended to be given annually, but increasingly vets are waiting three years between shots. Work out a plan that both you and your vet can live with. Don’t hesitate to ask questions; your vet can also offer advice and guidance regarding diet, behavior problems or any other concerns you have. 

As your cat ages into his senior years, he should visit the vet more often and be checked for arthritis, diabetes, kidney problems, thyroid issues, heart disease and other conditions common in older cats. If you’ve been assiduous about regular checkups with a trusted vet when your cat was young, you’ll be in good hands if you have to face a serious illness.


About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”

Make Sure Your Pets are Prepared in Case Disaster Strikes

Preparing Your Pets for Evacuation

By Stacy Mantle

RescuePetFloodWe never think it will happen to us, but the truth is a disaster can strike anywhere at any time. From hurricanes and fires, to gas leaks and terrorist threats, there are hundreds of reasons why you and your pets may need to evacuate your home. The important thing is to be prepared and to be certain your pets are, too. Here are some guidelines on getting your pets ready for evacuation.

Microchip Your Pets: This is the best way to ensure you and your pet are reunited. Be sure to register the tag (or change ownership if you adopted a dog or cat from a rescue). If you move, be sure to update your pet’s microchip information.  Always keep a recent photo of you and your pets on you. You never know when this information will be needed in case of separation. In addition to microchipping, your pets should always be wearing a collar with ID tags.

QR-coded tags are handy if you have a pet with a medical condition as you can store the information needed in one simple app. You decide how much of the information a stranger who finds your pet needs to know.

Know Where to Go: You should be certain you have a place to go in case of emergency. Search in advance for pet-friendly hotels in your area. In the event of long-term evacuation, you should have a plan in place with family or friends where you can take your pets.  You might also want to make prior arrangements with a kennel (for dogs or cats), a ranch (for large animals) or an animal rescue (for exotics).

Know Your Emergency Veterinarian Hospitals: Even if you don’t think you’ll need a veterinarian, you should know where your nearest 24-hour hospital is for your pets. This is particularly important if you have large animals who are more likely to injure themselves due to the stress of evacuation.

Make a Plan: You should have several ways to get out of your home with your pets, know how you will gather them safely in a timely period and identify a “meet place” with other family members. Map out your area and know where the nearest 24-hr veterinarian clinic is located so you can ensure your pets receive prompt attention in case of emergency. Verify that your veterinarian, pet sitter, trainer or daycare facility has an emergency plan in place if anything happens while your pets are under their care.

Create a “Go Bag”: Every household should have a single backpack that you can “grab and go” on the way out the door. This is a perfect bag for quick evacuations (gas leak, police evacuation or other temporary threat).

This bag includes a three-day supply of whatever your pets need for longer-term evacuations. Larger animals can carry their own packs if you plan well. You should have a go-bag in place for each animal and teach them ahead of time how to carry a pack. Smaller pets may need you to do the carrying.

  • Documentation: This includes an updated photo of you with your pet, microchip numbers, ID tag numbers and any emergency contact information in case anything happens to you.
  • Water: You and your pet need water. Keep a three-day supply of water for you and your pets in your go-bag. Plan on keeping 1 to 3 ounces of water per pound of body weight for each animal, each day.
  • Food: Keep at least three days of food for each pet in an airtight, waterproof container. Rotate these out on a monthly basis to ensure freshness. You may want to consider feeding your pets moist or canned food to assist in preventing dehydration. You can also consider purchasing premade emergency meal kits. (See resources below.)
  • Medicine: Keep an extra week of medicine on hand for pets who are on prescription medication.
  • Collar, Leash, ID Tags: Your pets should always be wearing a collar and ID tags, but it’s also a good idea to have an extra set stored in your “go bag.”
  • Dishes: Be sure you have at least one dish for feeding and watering your pets.

Crate: Be sure you have a way of transporting your pet securely. Conduct training exercises on a regular basis so that pets know the crate is a safe place. The goal is to have the crate be their location to run if anything frightens them. There’s nothing worse than trying to find a cat that has hidden in fear during an emergency situation.

Sanitation: Be sure you have a way to clean up after your pet. For cats, this means a spare litterbox and litter (these are premade and easy to dispose of). For dogs, this means plastic doggy bags. Your sanitation bags should also include paper towels, a disinfectant and wipes.

Use the Buddy System: A buddy system can be incredibly beneficial in saving your pets lives. Particularly if you work away from the home or have large animals (like horses), larger dogs who may be considered threatening (shepherds, pit bulls, etc.), or exotics (reptiles, ferrets, birds, etc.). Proper handling of these animals often means the difference between life and death. Work out an agreement between three and four families to learn how to handle one another’s animals. That way, you have back up if you’re out of town and emergency strikes at home.

Emergency Resources ASPCAPetFirstAid

 Premade Meal Kits and Bottled Water for Pets:

 First Aid Kit for Pets

 


About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at  www.StacyMantle.com

What to Do if Your Cat Gets Stung

The Cats and the Bees

By Sandy Robins

CatBeeGardenDid you know that July 10 was “Don’t Step on a Bee Day.” Seriously, who comes up with this stuff? If you don’t believe me, go to a website called DaysOfTheYear.com and check this out along with national waffle day and national gummi bear day…

The whole idea of this day is to help preserve bees, which are in danger in many parts of the world. While saving bees is a good thing, they can present a problem when you have cats. Cats find them irresistible to watch, chase—and catch.

We have a succulent on our balcony where the cats are allowed to sit safely and sun themselves. Every year it produces a huge stem with hundreds of tiny yellow flowers and with it comes the bees that probably get more pollen from this one stop than from flitting from flower to flower.

Fudge couldn’t care less. Been there done that—this occurs every year. But Ziggy is fixated, watching their every movement. It must make him dizzy when several bees arrive at once and flit all over this huge flowering stem. When one bee lost its sense of direction and flew inside Ziggy took after it at high speed. I had to spring into action to prevent ensuing conflict.

After a couple of weeks of this, I realized I couldn’t sit and watch Ziggy watching the bees any longer because eventually he could catch one and probably get stung, so I cut off the huge stem and put into it into a vase instead.

CatwBeesWhat do you do if your cat gets stung on her nose, paws or anywhere else? First off, if possible, get the entire stinger out. (Note: wasps, yellow jackets, hornets and bumble bees don’t leave their “stingers” behind.) A credit card is your best friend when it comes to removing a stinger. Use the credit card to scrape it away, making sure you get the whole stinger. Don’t use tweezers or your fingers as you might end up releasing more venom into or onto your cat. A sting won’t be too painful for your cat, according to veterinarians, but the site can swell up quickly. Ice will help reduce the swelling and it’s also a good idea to apply an antibiotic cream.

A friend’s cat chomped on a bee and got stung inside his cheek. That necessitated a trip to the vet and an antihistamine injection. In fact, any bee sting is definitely worth a follow up to the vet because cats can have an allergic reaction and go into shock. They might have difficulty breathing if the tissues of the throat swell. In addition, their blood pressure could plunge, resulting in a life-threatening complication. If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms after being stung, take her to a veterinarian immediately.

Sorry bees. Next year when this plant flowers, I am going to cut off the flowering stem and put it in a vase straight away. I am going to buy Ziggy a toy that replicates a bee on a wand and play with him instead.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats